Origin: San Francisco

"You're interviewing all these people doing important stuff in Portland. Can I just be, like, the regular guy who isn't doing that much?"

Brandon Purifoy, 32, arrived in Portland a few months ago and, like many natives fear of California transplants, spent a while just "hanging out."

Priced out of his birthplace of San Francisco by rapid gentrification and rising rent, he came to Portland to wait tables and be able to afford things. Shortly after beginning his job search, he landed a highly coveted service gig at downtown hot spot Clyde Common.

Although he had an impressive service résumé from working at some of San Francisco's top restaurants, he says he was hired based on a photo showing his impressive Afro.


WW: They didn't even look at your résumé?

Brandon Purifoy: I don't think so. I think they just really liked my hair.


So now we know your Afro has gotten you at least one job. Do you get laid more than you did without it?

Definitely. Especially in Portland. I've been using Tinder here, and I think the hair helps.


Ever seen any of your restaurant co-workers on Tinder?

Yes, but I swipe left. I wouldn't ever wanna date anyone I work with. Because once you start dating, it's a totally different dynamic. If I see them enough outside of work on a very intimate level, I don't wanna see them at work.


Wait service is a weird performance where people are kind of at their best. It's a skewed version of someone. As waiters, we're kind of whores.

I know what I do. I enjoy what I do. If actual hookers can do it, then I can do it. My job is easier than suckin' some dude's dick. Which I'm not into anyway. Dicks aren't my jam. But who knows what will happen if I continue to drink this much gin all the time?


Any difference between customers in San Francisco versus here?

We have a lot of hotel residents, so no, not really. Clyde is a pretty good example of what you'd find at a similar restaurant in San Francisco. Although I have found that women usually take a lot longer to order than men. Women linger. Do women on a date really worry about whether they should be getting a salad or a burger? Is that real? If so, that's absolutely stupid that that's necessary. Eat whatever you want!


Have you ever considered that sometimes there's a dynamic of them wanting you to linger at the table? I will sometimes flirt with a waiter to make a date jealous. That's a move we sometimes use.

I'm gonna start keeping an eye out for that!


Isn't that part of your role as a good server, though, to feel out what's going on with a date at a table and feed into the dynamic?

I once made a woman cry when she was with her boyfriend. Because he wanted to acknowledge that it was their anniversary so they could have free dessert. I was like, "Nah, it doesn't work like that." And I asked if he was a lawyer because I could tell he was lying to me. He said, "Yeah, actually I am." Later on I bring out their dessert and it said "Happy Anniversary" on the plate with frosting and shit. And I bought it for them. They get the dessert, and the woman starts crying and says, "It's not our anniversary, and it's really sad because he refuses to propose to me." I guess it was all a practical joke on his part. So I ended up buying their dessert and wine so they wouldn't complain.


I do not miss waiting tables. Every person is such a crapshoot. Have you found a good burger here yet?

Double Barrel! And I hear we're gonna get a In-N-Out Burger in Medford. I would drive there for that. It's like a five-hour drive, right? I was told that Burgerville has a great burger, but it's just a generic In-N-Out. I had a waiter ask me recently, "Would you like some ranch for your french fries?" How many horrible people have asked for that shit here where that is now a prompt?


Do you have any favorite late-night spots?

I go to the Hotcake House. It's great for when you stop caring about how food tastes and start worrying about how lack of food feels. Plus, it reminds me of home because there are other races there. At 3 am at the Hotcake House, it feels like a real city.


New Portlanders: The Interviews




Previous New Portlander Interviews: Slices from the Fresh Meat Column